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Rocket, others make case for Hall

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published July 31, 2005

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - By this afternoon's deadline for nonwaiver trades, we will know which key players will be changing addresses to try to improve the chances of their new team.

But which of the current players have the best chance to move to Cooperstown and have their induction weekend?

Here are 10 with the best chance of ending up in the Hall of Fame:

1. Roger Clemens, Astros. The only question with his remarkable 337-168 record and more amazing 4,444 strikeouts is how long will he keep pitching, delaying the inevitable.

2. Barry Bonds, Giants. There undoubtedly will be some voices of dissent and additional accusations of impropriety, but no matter what type of help you think he got or what you think of him personally it's hard to deny what he has done.

3. Greg Maddux, Cubs. Four straight Cy Young Awards and an amazing 17 consecutive seasons of 15 or more wins should say enough.

4. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. Given what he has done by the time he turned 30, he could end up with some of the most impressive numbers of all time.

5. Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles. He has joined the 500-homer club and the 3,000-hit club. Hard to imagine he doesn't get to join the club in Cooperstown next.

6. Sammy Sosa, Orioles. Sort of like Bonds, his accomplishments are going to be questioned and his denials snickered at. But in the end, they'll both end up in the Hall.

7. Ken Griffey Jr., Reds. Injuries kept him from doing more individually, and playing for the Mariners and Reds kept him from greater team success. But he still did pretty well.

8. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers. Being considered by some the best catcher of all time should count for something.

9. Gary Sheffield, Yankees. The numbers he puts up eventually will outweigh the controversies. Besides, Wade Boggs needs someone from Tampa to talk to.

10. Randy Johnson, Yankees. Might end up considered the most intimidating pitcher of all time. And that doesn't count how he comes across to the media.

Ten more worthy of considerable debate: Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, Mariano Rivera, John Smoltz, Miguel Tejada.

DEPRECIATED HITTERS: When the Indians and A's batted their DHs in the ninth slot Monday, it was the first time since the adoption of the DH rule in 1973. Before Monday, there had been 476 games when a team batted its DH last, but never both.

SURPRISE ANSWER: With all the good numbers that so many of the White Sox have put up, manager Ozzie Guillen says the most valuable player has been rookie second baseman Tadahito Iguchi.

"If you talk about who is the MVP of this team, somebody will say ( Scott) Podsednik, A.J. ( Pierzynski), ( Mark) Buehrle," Guillen said. "But to me, my MVP on the season right now is Tadahito. There's no doubt about it. He gives up at least 20 at-bats moving a guy over. He gives up a lot of good pitches to hit so his teammates can run. He does so many good things. His defense is solid. He gets a big hit for us. He does a tremendous job."

ANY RIVERA WILL DO: YES network broadcasters Michael Kay and Bobby Murcer spent several minutes last week blasting Angels outfielder Juan Rivera, saying the Yankees had to get rid of him because he allegedly stole one of Derek Jeter's gloves. One problem: the player they were referring to was Ruben Rivera, not Juan Rivera. "It was a brain cramp," Kay said.

THEY SAID IT: San Francisco's Jason Christiansen on winning an 11-inning game at Wrigley Field that was delayed three hours by rain and ended at 1:16 a.m.: "I was looking up and it was a quarter to 1 and I was on the mound. I should have been at a bar somewhere making last call." ... Houston's Lance Berkman on facing Pedro Martinez: "I guess you could say it's a challenge, but there are plenty of challenges out there and I don't need one more." ... San Francisco's Kirk Rueter on the constant shuffling of the roster: "I don't know if the whole atmosphere is conducive to performing."

NUMBERS GAME: The Cardinals are 45-20 in night games but only 19-18 in day games. ... The high-powered Angels scored four runs in a 46-inning stretch. ... Since the start of last season, Marco Scutaro has won six games for the A's in his final at-bat. ... Twice in a recent five-game span, the Rangers scored 10 runs and lost. ... Bret Boone had eight hits in his first 50 at-bats for the Twins, all singles.

MISCELLANY: New Brewers owner Mark Attanasio not only increased the payroll from $27.5-million to $41-million his first year, but gave permission to add payroll at the trading deadline. ... The Cubs' plan is to use Kerry Wood in the seventh and eighth innings as a bridge to closer Ryan Dempster. And exactly why did they let Joe Borowski go? ... The Braves don't expect Mike Hampton to be on the DL too long this time. ... The A's are looking to build a 35,000-seat stadium, which would be the smallest in the majors.

Information from Beyond the Box Score and other news organizations was used in this report.

[Last modified July 31, 2005, 01:33:10]


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